Summary: Christmas can be depressing because we include some things that destract from the true meaning. Here are some of those things and what to do about them.
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Luke 2:8 – 20
Why Christmas is depressing.
I. Christmas is disruptive.
A. It breaks the routine. (v 8)
1. We are conditioned by routine.
2. Routine saves us time and energy because we don’t have to think.
B. It reminds us that we are not in control (v 9)
1. Fear is natural when we are facing supernatural events.
2. Fear is natural when we are facing new things.
C. It becomes a busy time. (v 16)
1. We have Christmas shopping to do.
2. There are friends and relatives to visit and parties to attend.
*** The Shepherds were probably accustom to a routine and quiet life. The angel’s announcement disrupted the routine and quiet life. Disruption can throw us emotional and mentally off balance.
II. Christmas is discouraging.
A. The Christmas message is about “great joy” (v 10) and “peace on earth” (v 14). These are supposed to be present without limit or measure.
1. How much joy is there when our local economy has been really bad for so long? This year there was a family reunion and a funeral that brought about 175 people back to our town... many of them with strong ties to our church.
2. How much joy is there when we have steeled ourselves against hoping for too much?
B. The Christmas message is about a “savior” who came as a baby. (v 12)
1. Babies are “helpless.” A baby has no power, unless it’s being cute...
2. This baby was destined to grow up to be despised. So despised, in fact, that we would kill Him in a hideous way. There’s no power in death, unless it is in sacrifice.
(ill.) The movie “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” After Aslan is resurrected, the girls, Susan and Lucy want to know how. Aslan explains that if the Witch had been able to interpret the “deep magic” correctly, she would have known that if someone who had done no wrong willingly sacrificed themselves for the guilty, then the stone table would be broken and death would work backwards. (Note: this is different than the book.).
C. Ultimately the Christmas message fades because the celebration eventually ends. (v 20)
1. When it’s all over you “have” to go back to the daily grind. That’s when you are reminded that “sheep still stink.” (from evangelist Ben Jordan) Life is still there and what you don’t like is still there.
2. (ill.) Sugar highs and sugar lows of a diabetic... It’s not necessarily the number that has an immediate effect. It’s when the number swings to quickly that you feel the effect.
a. So we either suffer the emotional effect of the “high” of Christmas to the “low” of the dead of winter.
b. Or we steel ourselves and not get the true meaning and effect of Christmas.
c. Maybe there’s a better way?
*** The shepherds seem to become part of the moment. They do their part, go back to their sheep, and then vanish in history. I wonder if they knew that baby Jesus would replace all those sheep as the perfect sacrifice.
III. Christmas means delay.
A. Salvation would happen long after it was wanted. (v 18)
1. They were looking for a Messiah and deliverer (possibly like Moses), instead they got a mess.
a. What are the chances these shepherds lost a son or nephew in Herod’s rampaging massacre?
b. What are the chances that for the rest of their lives, people would look at them like they were a bit stranger than strange for waking them up that night with such a fantastic tale? You know what it’s like to live in a small town. People do not forget, unto the fourth generation!
2. They expected a conquering hero. Someone to set all things right. But that is not what they got.
B. This promised salvation would not happen on a human time table.
1. “Hustle and bustle” forces a fast pace. God’s timing is not our timing. God is not forced by the pressure of what we think is necessary.
2. Unfortunately expectations rule over common sense.
*** The problem comes when we do not want to be disrupted, we do not want to let ourselves feel the joy and pray (beyond hope) for peace, we do not want to be on God’s time table. For those people, yes, Christmas is rightfully depressing. But, there is another side of this story we need to consider...
IV. Christmas fills our deepest desire (not desires).
A. The shepherds were “nobody.” They were not allowed as witnesses in court, and helping a shepherd was not allowed.
1. They were the first to hear the birth announcement.
2. They were the first to see the baby Jesus.